Slighted in polls, Kelly doesn’t care

Leslie Montgomery

Just two days removed from his team’s demolition of the then-No. 6 California Golden Bears, head coach Chip Kelly held his weekly press conference.

In the 27-minute session he touched on everything from his impressions on the Cal game, to the USA Today Coaches’ poll, to Oregon’s upcoming game on Saturday against Washington State.

The first-year coach was in a good mood because of the big win, but he said the team has put the Cal game to bed and is now focused on the 1-3 Cougars.

“It was just one performance,” Kelly said. “The only thing we’ve accomplished is to guarantee ourselves an opportunity to go 3-9. That’s it.”

And although this week’s game against WSU isn’t on anyone’s radar as a potential tough game for Oregon, Kelly said that the Cougars play hard and it doesn’t matter what the team has done the past two years. He said if a team plays hard it will eventually win football games.

“One thing that I look at when I watch film is to see how hard people play,” Kelly said. “That’s one thing that I’m impressed with them about. Those guys play hard…it’s hard when you’re losing to keep playing hard, but they do.”

But despite the 42-3 win Saturday, Kelly says the Ducks need a lot of improvement in some key areas. Oregon fumbled the ball four times against Cal and lost three of them. It’s been a frustrating thing for Kelly to watch from the sidelines.

“It’s unacceptable,” he said. “(The cause) is everything. It’s fundamentals; it’s how to carry the football. You’re not going to win football games if you turn the football over at that rate. So there’s still a lot of things that this team needs to improve on.”

One thing Kelly is pleased with is the play of his defensive secondary. With injuries to Walter Thrumond III and T.J. Ward, the Ducks have put together a hodgepodge of guys into positions, and it’s worked out well. As of Monday, the team is No. 25 in the country in pass defense.

“I’m really impressed with those guys,” Kelly said. “What John Boyett and Willie Glasper have been able to do in stepping in for Walter and T.J. has been tremendous. We’re going to continue to need them to do that and I’m confident in the guys who will step in.”

The Ducks will also look to improve on their new No. 16 ranking in the Associated Press top 25 poll. The team was dumped from the top 25 following its 19-8 loss to Boise State on Sept. 3 and hasn’t been back since. But, despite the high jump in the AP top 25, the USA Today Coaches’ poll moved Oregon up to No. 25. And to add insult to injury, California is ranked higher than the Ducks at No. 19.

“The only thing that I know about the polls is that they don’t make sense,” Kelly said. “I’m not saying anything against the pollsters, but I don’t know anybody who can watch every team in the country then rank them…It doesn’t make any sense. Cal’s ranked ahead of us and we just played them.”

Kelly didn’t elaborate further on the subject as he doesn’t put much time into worrying about polls, he said, which are out of his control. He said that he’ll wait for the dust to settle at the end of the year before he makes any judgments.

“The media did better than the coaches this week,” Kelly said. “This week. We’ll just wait until Dec. 3 to see where we’re at.”

Here are a few other notes for this week’s game against Washington State:

• The Ducks have the longest current winning streak in the Pacific-10 Conference at four, dating back to last year.

• Oregon beat the Cougars 63-14 in Pullman last year behind 346 yards rushing.

• The Ducks lead the series 41-38-7 and they’ve won the past two games by a combined total of 116-21.

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